The Cardinals are hoping to get their best offensive player back in the next few days.
They’re not waiting for any news on Paul Goldschmidt nor Nolan Arenado, but rather for Yadier Molina, who received a positive prognosis from imaging taken of his right foot after exiting Friday’s 5-4 win over the Reds in the sixth inning. The catcher is set for further testing to ensure there’s no damage to any tendons.
Molina was out of the starting lineup for Saturday’s encore against Cincinnati but was said to be available in a “super emergency” capacity, according to manager Mike Shildt. The Cardinals hope it’s just a day or two out of action for Molina.
“Talked to him earlier, of course he may be the toughest man alive,” Shildt said. “He said, ‘I can play, I’m not too worried about it.’ But it’s all relative.”
Andrew Knizner, who replaced Molina after Molina appeared to take an awkward swing in the fifth inning, suited up for his third start of the season on Saturday. Knizner is making the most of his limited chances playing behind a stalwart like Molina thus far, helping navigate Jordan Hicks and Alex Reyes through a turbulent ninth inning to secure Friday’s win.
“He did a good job, came in cold. … The ninth was a little hairy,” Shildt laughed. “Something that Kizz worked with the guys and blocked a couple balls that were tough, did his part. A good experience for him.”
Saturday will mark the first time this season Molina's absence from the lineup was not planned. The 38-year-old has not just turned back the clock in 2021 but is playing some of the best offensive baseball of his career, leading the Cardinals in essentially every major offensive category and slashing .339/.382/.661 in 62 at-bats.
He reinforced his torrid start with a homer and double through his first two at-bats on Friday, exiting after his third -- a strikeout in the fifth inning -- on what looked like an awkward swing and then walking off the field gingerly.
Behind Knizner, the Cardinals have pegged utility infielder Edmundo Sosa as their emergency backup catcher, and outfielder Austin Dean is in line behind him.
Williams starts vs. a lefty
Harrison Bader should return from his right forearm injury toward the middle of May. Until that happens, the Cardinals have seen a bit of a rotating cast start in the outfield on a nightly basis, either because of matchups or other injuries.
Saturday’s lineup was a good indication of where they feel they stand in the interim. Not only was Tyler O’Neill (right groin) back in the lineup, but Justin Williams got another start against a lefty after doing the same against Patrick Corbin in D.C. on Tuesday.
St. Louis has not just liked what it’s seen from Williams’ at-bats -- hard-hit balls abound -- but in his box score production as well; he's slashing .290/.389/.484 across his last 11 games.